Monday, March 30, 2015

Morse and Glenwood, 1921

Strong transit connections are one of the reasons Rogers Park looks the way it does today.  In the center of the neighborhood are the Metra tracks (Union Pacific North), which were instrumental in early suburban development of the area (1870s through the 1890s).  But the urbanization of Rogers Park really began with the extension of the "L."  In 1908 the train was extended from Uptown to Howard, and around 1916 the tracks were elevated on a temporary trestle.

Northwest corner of Morse and Glenwood, 2015
Station Diagram
The Northwestern Elevated Railroad Company built the Morse Station on right-of-way owned by the Milwaukee Road Railway in 1921.  The red brick and limestone station house was designed by Charles Rawson, and was originally identical to those at Jarvis, Argyle, and Thorndale, which were built under the same contract.  Rawson designed the stations to include a number of commercial rental spaces, and these added to the rapid commercial development of the area. The railroad had the benefit of rental income, and tenants benefited from a steady stream of potential customers.

Unfortunately, this hasn't worked out exactly as intended.  The storefront spaces are generally dark and undesirable, with trains rumbling overhead every few minutes.  And I'm not sure the Chicago Transit Authority (which bought the right-of-way in 1953) relishes their role in marketing and maintaining these spaces.  One of the storefronts on Lunt was in such poor condition that it needed to be demolished during the recent renovation of the Morse station.  Another former commercial space on Morse was used to expand the existing station.  But a few businesses remain, perhaps against the odds.

This simplified diagram of the CTA station was adapted from the 1951 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of the area:  1. Main Entrance; 2. Platform; 3. Commercial spaces; and 4. Overpass. Access onto Lunt remains (and it's pretty darn useful) but the one on the south side of Morse has been blocked.

Original Morse CTA Station, 1960 (updated to 1985)

Some of the historic information in this post was taken from  the "Historic Properties Review CTA Rapid Transit System, Part 3," which was published in 1986.  Additional information was provided by Chicago "L".org at, accessed on March 30, 2015.


  1. Thanks. I learn so much from your posts. So glad you take the time to do this!

  2. 1. While the L was raised up from grade in 1916, that was on a temporary trestle, the current embankment, wasn't completed until 1922.
    2. The Milwaukee Road owned the right of way until 1953, when the CTA finally bought.

  3. Thanks for your notes Clark St. I was wondering when CTA consolidated the line. I've been looking for a section drawing through the concrete embankment for this post, but I haven't had any luck yet.